Rugby might be the newest sport local youngsters have a chance to play this winter, if all goes as planned. A group of Santa Cruz County residents will hold a planning meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20 to begin to lay the groundwork for a rugby club in the county.
The group hopes to form the Santa Cruz Redhawks Youth Rugby Club with the help of Los Gatos Youth Rugby club. Clubs for young people already exist in San Jose and Los Gatos, but none are based in Santa Cruz
Chris Fisher, President of the Los Gatos Lions Youth Rugby club, has been working with local parents to form the Redhawks. He said the sport sells itself.
“The most compelling reason (to play) is that it’s an incredibly fun sport to play,” Fisher said in a statement. “It’s fast-paced and exciting, with players running, passing, catching and kicking the ball, tackling opponents, and it’s also completely focused around teamwork, a very inclusive sport. On our team there’s no requirement for prior experience; nobody gets cut based on skill level, everybody plays.”
The club plans to have teams for ages under-8 to high school-aged by the time youth rugby starts in December. The season runs from early December through late March.
Locally, Sue Vaughan of Scotts Valley and Joni Martin of Felton are two local parents involved in helping to form the new club. Martin’s 10-year-old son, Cade Martin-Hansen, played his first season of rugby with the Los Gatos Lions last year. He took to the sport right away and is looking forward to sharing the experience with local friends now that the drive won’t be an issue.
“Cade has played soccer and baseball, and enjoyed them both, but from the first day of rugby practice, it was his favorite sport by far,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t have taken on that drive to practices if he wasn’t so passionate about the sport, but there was something about it that really clicked for him, and now there’s a chance for his friends at home to try it, too. Since sports teams and kids’ social lives tend to be so intertwined, we’re really happy about that.”
Vaughan’s son, Ross, has played three seasons over the hill, and although he will play on the Los Gatos Lions’ high school team this year for continuity, he plans to help train the younger Santa Cruz players if their practice days don’t conflict with his.
“Playing rugby has been a great experience for Ross, and he’s looking forward to helping bring the sport to our own community,” she said.
For information, attend a parent meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20 at Starbucks, 219 Mount Hermon Road in Scotts Valley or e-mail Joni Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.